Gravity in 3D and Dolby Atmos - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 164 Old 10-09-2013, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Last night, I saw Gravity in 3D at the AMC Burbank 16 ETX theater, which features a Christie projector with RealD XL and a Dolby Atmos sound system. It was also playing in the Imax auditorium across the hall, and while Imax 3D is brighter than the ETX presentation (two projectors versus one), I strongly prefer Atmos over Imax audio.

 

That preference was fully justified in this case—the soundtrack was one of the most effective Atmos mixes I've ever heard. It's no spoiler to say that the movie stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (essentially the only two on-screen actors in the entire movie) as astronauts struggling to survive after a catastrophic accident occurs while they're repairing the Hubble space telescope. The sound of debris flying all around the damaged space station, the direction from which the radio voices emanate as the camera angle changes, even the music—all were artfully steered throughout the room.

 

I didn't expect this movie to be very loud, but it actually was—an average level of 84.2 dBA over 1 hour, 44 minutes (including most of the trailers; it's a pretty short movie), with the highest 1-second maximum of 98.7 dBA. The level remained above 89.3 dBA 10 percent of the time, 81.8 dBA 33 percent of the time, and 75.5 dBA 50 percent of the time, and the OSHA dosage was 5.82 percent. Not the loudest I've measured, but I did need to put my fingers in my ears several times. (I didn't wear my earplugs because I wanted to hear the Atmos soundtrack as clearly as possible.)

 

 

The visuals are gorgeous. Apparently, most of what's on the screen is CGI (computer-generated imagery), except for the actors' faces in space suits and a few live-action scenes, which were shot digitally using Arri cameras. As a result, the 3D is mostly native except for those few live elements, which were post-processed into 3D by Prime Focus. It looked quite seamless to me—the 3D is extremely effective and really enhances the sense of floating in space. Speaking of which, the black of space might not have been quite as deep as I've seen elsewhere, but it certainly didn't bother me. And the sweeping shots of Earth below were breathtaking.

 

UPDATE: I saw Gravity again in Imax to compare the presentations. Imax was certainly brighter and bigger, but the audio was nowhere near as immersive as Dolby Atmos. The levels were marginally higher—84.5 dBA average, 99.3 dBA 1-second maximum, above 89.4 dBA 10 percent of the time, above 82.5 dBA 33 percent of the time, above 77.4 dBA 50 percent of the time, 6.60% OSHA dosage—but not dramatically so. For me, there is no question—I would pick an Atmos showing over Imax if possible.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

 

As for the movie itself, it's a gripping tale of survival with a strong, competent, yet understandably terrified woman in the lead role. Bullock plays bio-medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone, a mission specialist sent to repair the Hubble space telescope. Commanding the mission is Matt Kowalski (Clooney), a veteran astronaut on his final trip to space. When Russia uses one of its own satellites for missile target practice, the debris crashes into other satellites, causing a chain reaction that sends tons of shrapnel hurtling toward the astronauts at a relative 20,000 miles per hour, damaging the shuttle, the International Space Station, and a nearby Chinese space station beyond repair. Stone flies off uncontrollably, but Kowalski reaches her with his jet pack, and they head for the ISS to see if its Soyuz escape capsules are intact, knowing that the debris field will return every 90 minutes.

 

I was especially mesmerized by the incredibly long tracking shots in space—the movie opens with a single continuous shot that lasts 17 minutes! There are lots of other long shots, mostly when the characters are floating in space rather than in a space station or capsule, which really places the audience right there with them. In fact, the entire movie has only about 200 cutaways, far fewer than most feature-length movies.

 

The story is pretty implausible—for example, why would a bio-medical engineer be sent to fix the Hubble telescope? Also, the Hubble and the International Space Station are more than 100 miles apart in altitude, yet they are in visual range of each other in the movie. I found myself wondering why the movie is called Gravity, when it's mostly about zero gravity and angular momentum. (In the end, gravity does assert itself.)

 

Then there's the physics of a weightless environment. As astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has noted, Bullock's hair does not behave as it would in zero-G, and the scene in which Kowalski detaches himself from Stone before they both go flying off makes no sense—by the time he makes that decision, they've both stopped moving relative to the ISS, so there was no need for Kowalski to sacrifice his life to save Stone's.

 

On the other hand, apart from Bullock's hair and the detachment scene, the depiction of weightless motion is quite good. Reportedly, Bullock spent up to 9 or 10 hours per day in an elaborate mechanical rig because it was so difficult to get into and out of. And I applaud director Alfonso Cuaron for keeping all sound effects out of the space shots—I've always hated it when filmmakers add the sound of explosions and such in an airless environment.

 

Geeky quibbles aside, Gravity is a powerful, intense movie that transcends the typical sci-fi thriller. No evil aliens, no time travel, just a riveting drama that explores the inner space of psychological resilience and transformation in the face of disaster and the importance of human connection. I highly recommend it, especially in an Atmos theater.

 

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post #2 of 164 Old 10-09-2013, 08:53 PM
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I have seen it at both theaters in the Burbank AMC 16. There is no question that the audio with Dolby Atmos is stellar. However, the size of the image on the IMAX screen was visually more engaging because it can fill most of one's field of view, depending if one sits close enough such as in the third or fourth row from the gap after the front seats. As you indicated, the IMAX image is brighter. I would suggest seeing it both theaters. A third theater in Monrovia is the Krikorian's LFX with Dolby Atmos. The Dolby Atmos mix in the ETX theater is better, but the image brightness is somewhere in between the ETX and IMAX screens in Burbank. The Krikorian LFX theater only has 8 rows but is wider and fewer speakers than the ETX. Because of the depth of that theater, the light is brighter on the screen because it is a much shorter distance from the projector to the screen there, compared to the ETX theater. So that Gravity looks and sounds different in the three theaters. The audio in the LFX theater is not nearly as engaging or discrete as the ETX theater. Nevertheless, this is certainly a movie to be experienced on a big screen - a real big one.
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post #3 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fookoo_2010 View Post

I have seen it at both theaters in the Burbank AMC 16. There is no question that the audio with Dolby Atmos is stellar. However, the size of the image on the IMAX screen was visually more engaging because it can fill most of one's field of view, depending if one sits close enough such as in the third or fourth row from the gap after the front seats. As you indicated, the IMAX image is brighter. I would suggest seeing it both theaters. A third theater in Monrovia is the Krikorian's LFX with Dolby Atmos. The Dolby Atmos mix in the ETX theater is better, but the image brightness is somewhere in between the ETX and IMAX screens in Burbank. The Krikorian LFX theater only has 8 rows but is wider and fewer speakers than the ETX. Because of the depth of that theater, the light is brighter on the screen because it is a much shorter distance from the projector to the screen there, compared to the ETX theater. So that Gravity looks and sounds different in the three theaters. The audio in the LFX theater is not nearly as engaging or discrete as the ETX theater. Nevertheless, this is certainly a movie to be experienced on a big screen - a real big one.

Cool ! I have both 87ft Imax and Atmos eek.gifbiggrin.gif
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post #4 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 03:32 AM
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Thanks for another great report , Scott!

Unfortunately, I won't be able to catch Gravity in IMAX, ETX or any of the other large venues as I won't be close to one during it's run.

But it sounds like an opportunity that shouldn't be missed if the lives close to one of these types of large venues.


One thing I noticed in my area here is that the local cinemas, Carmike, are only showing it in 3D with no 2D option at all.

Is anyone else seeing this in their area?
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post #5 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 06:29 AM
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Thanks for another great report , Scott!

Unfortunately, I won't be able to catch Gravity in IMAX, ETX or any of the other large venues as I won't be close to one during it's run.

But it sounds like an opportunity that shouldn't be missed if the lives close to one of these types of large venues.


One thing I noticed in my area here is that the local cinemas, Carmike, are only showing it in 3D with no 2D option at all.

Is anyone else seeing this in their area?

The had it in 2D in my area, but only for 4 showtimes vs. like 20 for the 3D version.
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post #6 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 07:58 AM
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Regretfully It's only showing at the little IMAX's in the Atlanta area.
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post #7 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 08:21 AM
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For all of Gravity's high budget CGI... it still looks phony, because of the digital shading, lighting, and animation, and not even close to real space flight footage, especially during the space debris "attack" (not to mention there is no sound in the vacuum of space!!). Kind of like watching a really good PIXAR film. Heck, Bullock and Clooney could have just done voice over work for as much live footage they actually used.

Though it was released in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey holds up better. Imagine that! Where's Douglass Trumbull when we need him?!

However, I would like to hear it in Atmos if I can find a theater in the Denver vicinity.

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post #8 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 08:22 AM
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The IMAX image is much superior.... The sound was quite good but I did not hear the ATMOS to compare it with

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post #9 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 09:46 AM
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Was gravity filmed/formatted for imax or was it converted later?
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post #10 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

For all of Gravity's high budget CGI... it still looks phony, because of the digital shading, lighting, and animation, and not even close to real space flight footage, especially during the space debris "attack" (not to mention there is no sound in the vacuum of space!!). Kind of like watching a really good PIXAR film. Heck, Bullock and Clooney could have just done voice over work for as much live footage they actually used.

Though it was released in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey holds up better. Imagine that! Where's Douglass Trumbull when we need him?!

However, I would like to hear it in Atmos if I can find a theater in the Denver vicinity.

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post #11 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 10:17 AM
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Thanks for the review..I plan on seeing it in imax 3d in rockaway since amc has no etx theater there.
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post #12 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 10:19 AM
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My local IMAX has DBOX type rumblers in the seats and this movie really shook the hell out of us. It was really quite the experience.

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post #13 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 10:21 AM
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Cool ! I have both 87ft Imax and Atmos eek.gifbiggrin.gif

Nice! So it sounds like there are theaters with both. Where do we find a list of these theaters? I am hoping there is one somewhere in the Denver area as it sounds like the IMAX/Atmos combo would be the ultimate way to experience this film.

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post #14 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 10:26 AM
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Funny.. my first viewing was in an iMax theater equipped with Klipsch cinema speakers... OUTSTANDING!
the second viewing was in a REAL 3D theater, also with Klipsch, but at a lower level... not even in the same ball park.

not sure who was processing what in each theater, but iMax did say in the introduction that it was the iMax sound system

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post #15 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 10:53 AM
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Regretfully It's only showing at the little IMAX's in the Atlanta area.

It's only playing in digital IMAX. Warner Bros. has not struck any IMAX 15/70 film prints.
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Was gravity filmed/formatted for imax or was it converted later?

The movie was shot digitally with a 2k DI. No part of it was shot with IMAX film.

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post #16 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 10:57 AM
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Was gravity filmed/formatted for imax or was it converted later?


Anyone know? I can't find this information anywhere.
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post #17 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 10:58 AM
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It's too bad because that would have turned this from a 10 to 11. I sort of wanted it not to be 2.35 scope and 1.85 instead for all that extra vertical "space". Lol.

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post #18 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Nice! So it sounds like there are theaters with both. Where do we find a list of these theaters? I am hoping there is one somewhere in the Denver area as it sounds like the IMAX/Atmos combo would be the ultimate way to experience this film.

 

As far as I know, there are no Imax theaters with Atmos. Imax uses its own sound system, so you must choose Imax image or Atmos sound...or see it twice!


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post #19 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 11:14 AM
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It's only playing in digital IMAX. Warner Bros. has not struck any IMAX 15/70 film prints.
The movie was shot digitally with a 2k DI. No part of it was shot with IMAX film.

Thanks! I couldn't find any review that actually made that clear. So what is the native aspect ratio it was made for?

Trying to decide how to see this. The dilemma is it had to be cropped for IMAX, but the immersion is probably better that way than scope for this kind of movie.
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post #20 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 11:38 AM
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If only they had used more of their budget on a quality screenplay. The effects were nice but the story is forgettable. Certainly not comparable to 2001 other than they both take place in space. The characters here don't have half the personality of HAL9000!
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post #21 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 12:20 PM
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As far as I know, there are no Imax theaters with Atmos. Imax uses its own sound system, so you must choose Imax image or Atmos sound...or see it twice!


Bummer! Thanks for the info Scott. Will probably only see this once in the theater, so maybe I will flip a coin between Atmos or IMAX.... tongue.gif

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post #22 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 12:47 PM
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Completely engaging story. Yes, there was a major plot element that was fouled up (Scott mentioned it in the OP), but I remained involved with the main character's plight.
That opening shot was the most phenomenal opening shot in cinema history.
Highest recommendation.
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post #23 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 12:51 PM
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Now I'm not going to claim Gravity is the best movie ever made (fairly standard disaster survival plot, good but not fantastic acting, etc..), but what I will say is seeing it in ETX and Atmos was the greatest movie going experience I've ever had. By far the best and most seamless 3D I've seen yet, and the sound was paradigm shifting, truly incredible.
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post #24 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 01:21 PM
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I'm going to see it at the local Imax which just had a complete overhaul about a month ago on Saturday. I just hope it's not just blown up to fill the screen like the last Star trek movie where the closeups were way too close..
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post #25 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 01:21 PM
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Thanks! I couldn't find any review that actually made that clear. So what is the native aspect ratio it was made for?

Trying to decide how to see this. The dilemma is it had to be cropped for IMAX, but the immersion is probably better that way than scope for this kind of movie.

It is not cropped for IMAX. The aspect ratio is 2.40:1 in all theaters, including IMAX. It will have letterbox bars on the IMAX screen. Many movies do.

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post #26 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 01:35 PM
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Best use of Atmos I have seen so far (and I've tried to catch all the major releases, considering we have 8 Atmos-equipped theatres within driving distance here in Southern California). None of the other Atmos mixes come close. Even with your eyes closed, you are always aware of where everyone is around you (even if they are above you or behind you).

There must be some sort of (quite understandable) rule for movie mixers to keep dialogue predominantly in the screen channels and not pan it to the surround field. 'Gravity' breaks that rule spectacularly, doing something that a traditional 'establishing shot' can't by keeping you aware of where off-screen characters are in 3D space around you. Best part, it's never distracting (i.e., you don't turn away from the screen, looking for the voice behind you).

Pair that with a tight film that doesn't overstay its welcome (90 minutes) and it's no wonder this movie is succeeding beyond expectations. Worth driving extra miles to an Atmos-equipped cinema.
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post #27 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 01:57 PM
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It's only playing in digital IMAX. Warner Bros. has not struck any IMAX 15/70 film prints.

The movie was shot digitally with a 2k DI. No part of it was shot with IMAX film.

Interesting. People are being blown away by a LIEMAX. confused.gif That could easily be another thread. smile.gif
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post #28 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 03:54 PM
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Interesting. People are being blown away by a LIEMAX. confused.gif
Sure. Did you really think that giving digital IMAX a derogatory name would diminish the actual experience?

Digital IMAX screens are noticeably bigger than typical theatres, so audiences have a much more immersive/involving experience compared to seeing it in a non-IMAX auditorium. Plus, one of the biggest complaints about 3D (too dim) isn't a problem in digital IMAX theatres (because they use 2 projectors).

The famous Grauman's Chinese theatre here in Hollywood just re-opened last month as the largest IMAX theatre in the world (90-foot wide screen). If people weren't choosing to pay extra to see digital IMAX showings more and more, the iconic theatre wouldn't have invested in the conversion.

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post #29 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 04:02 PM
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Sure. Did you really think that giving digital IMAX a derogatory name would diminish the actual experience?

Digital IMAX screens are noticeably bigger than typical theatres, so audiences have a much more immersive/involving experience compared to seeing it in a non-IMAX auditorium. Plus, one of the biggest complaints about 3D (too dim) isn't a problem in digital IMAX theatres (because they use 2 projectors).

The famous Grauman's Chinese theatre here in Hollywood just re-opened last month as the largest IMAX theatre in the world (90-foot wide screen). If people weren't choosing to pay extra to see digital IMAX showings more and more, the iconic theatre wouldn't have invested in the conversion.

Pretty much. I went and saw this at our local IMAX (a real IMAX) just because I wanted the HUGE screen just for this movie. Now I need it in Atmos.

Contemplating making the +4hr drive ..... biggrin.gif

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post #30 of 164 Old 10-10-2013, 04:20 PM
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Got to see it in IMAX Melbourne Australia which boasts the world's third largest screen on Wednesday night.
I've been one of the biggest skeptics of IMAX and 3D for a very long time and it was this experience alone that has now changed my position on this.

The image was spectacular, with seamless CGI on the 7 storey high screen. Bass extension was how I liked it, prominent. Highs could be a little harsh at times for my ears.
The only problem I'm still having with 3D is fast panning/action scenes are still blurry. I'm unsure if it's the scene itself or maybe my eyes :s

As for the movie, loved every bit of it, even the implausible content.
So much nit picking happening above hehe but no one has raised that it is 100% impossible to remove a wetsuit / waders when pressurized by 4 foot of water let alone 30 foot.
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